Cerne Abbas Giant

peterbernard2O9

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#61
tilly50 said:
Somehow I find it difficult to but into the idea that the giant is a Royalist gibe against Cromwell.

To begin with the outline is crude (I don't mean in the "porn" sense!) the design is simplistic, there are examples of turf cut figures that are much more sophisticated in style that are earlier than the civil war period.

Also, if it is depicting Cromwell, why has the animal skin/cloak that leads to it being unambiguously a figure of hercules been allowed to disappear?
I would have thought that if the figure was one that derided the much hated Cromwell it would have been scoured with much more vigour and accuracy once the monarchy was re-established and maybe it would have become a centre for an annual ceremony marking the event. If the Boscabel Oak has become so entrenched in our civil war folklore, why not the Cerne Abbas giant?
Isn't it possible that it wasn't mentioned prior to the late 1600s because that was the dark ages and this is a picture of a huge erect penis?
 
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#62
peterbernard2O9 said:
...

Isn't it possible that it wasn't mentioned prior to the late 1600s because that was the dark ages and this is a picture of a huge erect penis?
The 'Dark Ages' had been over, for about 600 years, or more, by the 17th Century and one does wonder that it didn't get a mention during the Elizabethan period, when there was a bit more permissive laxity, after the Reformation.

Perhaps, it's one of those grey areas where the Church turned a blind eye to the dark, un-Christian, doings of its congregations, by pretending nothing was happening, putting it down to the 'Work of the Devil?'
 

Jerry_B

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#63
Re: I just want to say

peterbernard2O9 said:
Monty Python mocked Americans for starting off by saying, "I just want to say," and "Lemme tell ya something," but I just want to say that the Jerry_B guy is unaware of how deeply prejudiced he is against non-Christians and in favor of Christians, as though their mythology somehow made more sense than any other.
Er... you seem to be barking up the wrong tree there. I am in no way a cheerleader for Christianity. And I certainly don't think that 'Christianity is the One True Religion'. That whole idea is ludicrous, IMHO.
 

Jerry_B

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#64
Pietro_Mercurios said:
Perhaps, it's one of those grey areas where the Church turned a blind eye to the dark, un-Christian, doings of its congregations, by pretending nothing was happening, putting it down to the 'Work of the Devil?'
Because the giant is something 'pagan', or for the fact that he has a huge penis?
 
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#65
Jerry_B said:
Pietro_Mercurios said:
Perhaps, it's one of those grey areas where the Church turned a blind eye to the dark, un-Christian, doings of its congregations, by pretending nothing was happening, putting it down to the 'Work of the Devil?'
Because the giant is something 'pagan', or for the fact that he has a huge penis?
A double whammy! :)
 

Jerry_B

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#66
Well, in the historical record, the giant's penis doesn't really seem to be a factor for remark. It only seems to crop up in later folklore about 'fertility', etc.. Of course, him being pagan doesn't crop up either, unless one buys into the stories dreamt up by the likes of Stukeley, etc..
 
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#67
Medieval surveys have recorded chalk horses, but there was no mention of the giant in the local 1356 survey.

If one looks at the english language of the 16th-17th centuries (and yes much earlier and as well) the sexuality of the body seems to been less censored.
A modern bible translates a phrase as, "They corrupted the bosom of their virginity".
Where as, the King James from this period has it as, "They bruised the teats of their virginity." :shock: :D

So I don't think the large chalk penis from this time is unlikely. (indeed it could have been earlier if not for the 1356 survey)
What's more surprising is that it got through the 19th century intact. :)

.
 

Jerry_B

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#68
I think it managed to get through the 19th century because of the Romantic revival and a resurgence of interest in folkloric/pastoral themes. Quite alot of 'traditions' seemed to have been kicked off in that period.
 
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#69
Jerry_B said:
I think it managed to get through the 19th century because of the Romantic revival and a resurgence of interest in folkloric/pastoral themes. Quite alot of 'traditions' seemed to have been kicked off in that period.
"Kicked off," or recognised, recorded and officially celebrated?

The current fashion seems to be to suggest that any apparent folk traditions that appeared on record, for the first time, in the 19th Century, weren't survivals from earlier periods, but actually invented as part of some pastoral fantasy England, by worthy Victorian Romantics.

Presumably, the village yokels were goaded into performing regular seasonal folk dances, wearing cap and bells, by their social and intellectual superiors of an antiquarian, romantic, bent, the Lord of the Manor, the local Doctor, the local Magistrate, or their like.

After a few decades the performers are no doubt suposed to have come to believe that their forefathers had been performing these spuriously ancient rites, for generations. How easy these simple folk were to fool, apparently. And what a misanthropic view of folk culture and its participants.
 

Jerry_B

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#70
Not 'any', just some. Some folk traditions pre-date the Victorian era, of course. And it's not a case of goading or fooling anyone. Some recent traditions simply carry along with them their own story or history, which can be invented or imagined (i.e. the 'druids' who go to Stonehenge each summer solstice). One should therefore be aware of which ones are comparatively recent, and which are older, and which ones may be ancient. And as to the contention that I have a 'misanthropic view of folk culture and its participants', this is hardly the case, as I've had great fun taking part in a few events (which may be possibly be fairly old traditions in themselves). I think one mistake is some sort of need to dress things as up as being older than they actually are - that's the sort of thing, IMHO, which tends to destroy traditions and attempts to rewrite history for particular ends or as a way of seeking legitimacy for an outlook which may be entirely erroneous.
 
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#71
Jerry_B said:
... And as to the contention that I have a 'misanthropic view of folk culture and its participants', this is hardly the case, as I've had great fun taking part in a few events (which may be possibly be fairly old traditions in themselves). ...
What a pity, then, that it has previously been so difficult to garner this from your Posts on the subject.
... I think one mistake is some sort of need to dress things as up as being older than they actually are - that's the sort of thing, IMHO, which tends to destroy traditions and attempts to rewrite history for particular ends or as a way of seeking legitimacy for an outlook which may be entirely erroneous.
Or alternatively, to be too quick to dismiss traditions as recent inventions and therefore worthless, unless there is firm documentary evidence to the contrary. Since, apparently, oral tradition and folk memory, alone, cannot be trusted.
 

stu neville

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#72
Pietro_Mercurios said:
...Or alternatively, to be too quick to dismiss traditions as recent inventions and therefore worthless, unless there is firm documentary evidence to the contrary. Since, apparently, oral tradition and folk memory, alone, cannot be trusted.
With an eminently Fortean circularity, where would that leave Homer?

Doughnuts and harps united in tradition. Never thought I'd say that :).
 

Jerry_B

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#74
Pietro_Mercurios said:
What a pity, then, that it has previously been so difficult to garner this from your Posts on the subject.
If that's how you've read it, so be it. To go further in my defence, I have a very strong and long-standing interest in the folkore of south Somerset, where I was born and raised. But I'm under no illusions that some stories are more recent than others - what fascinates me is which ones are the oldest and where they might have originated from.

Or alternatively, to be too quick to dismiss traditions as recent inventions and therefore worthless, unless there is firm documentary evidence to the contrary. Since, apparently, oral tradition and folk memory, alone, cannot be trusted.
Oral tradition and folk memory cannot be trusted, no. The folklore about the Long Man proves that point. I haven't said anything is 'worthless'. All I'm saying is that people should be aware that sometimes what they are claiming is 'ancient' (and therefore seek some legitimacy from) is not always a claim based in fact, and that sometimes it can be shown that what is considered 'ancient' is not. All it takes is being up to date with research, and perhaps actually digging into the history of what's being considered. So, in this example, the modern pagans seem unaware of the possibility that the giant at Cerne Abbas is possibly not of ancient origin. I find it odd that people who are avowedly interested in an ancient past (and perhaps claim links to it) aren't always so knowledgable about the subject they make claims (or complaints) about.
 

jefflovestone

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#75
Jerry_B said:
Not 'any', just some. Some folk traditions pre-date the Victorian era, of course. And it's not a case of goading or fooling anyone. Some recent traditions simply carry along with them their own story or history, which can be invented or imagined (i.e. the 'druids' who go to Stonehenge each summer solstice). One should therefore be aware of which ones are comparatively recent, and which are older, and which ones may be ancient. And as to the contention that I have a 'misanthropic view of folk culture and its participants', this is hardly the case, as I've had great fun taking part in a few events (which may be possibly be fairly old traditions in themselves). I think one mistake is some sort of need to dress things as up as being older than they actually are - that's the sort of thing, IMHO, which tends to destroy traditions and attempts to rewrite history for particular ends or as a way of seeking legitimacy for an outlook which may be entirely erroneous.
I'm in agreement with this; Hutton's pretty good for stuff like this.
 
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#78
I've read of someone claiming to find an artistic link (or at least a similar artistic style) to the giant dating from the 17th century.
This was supposedly found in a type of folk pottery.
After searching and failing to find an example of this, I think I've chanced across a piece by accident.
Do a search for Thomas Toft and his slipware pottery.
 

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#79
Pietro_Mercurios said:
jefflovestone said:
...

I'm in agreement with this; Hutton's pretty good for stuff like this.
Professor Hutton's got a lot to answer for, IMO.
Care to expand on this? From a research point of view, I'm aware that Hutton isn't perfect. Apparently, he'd like to rewrite or amend The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles as relevant research has moved on in the last 10 years or so. That said, I'd have thought that Hutton has left paganism and various folk traditions in a better historical state that they were previously.
 
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#80
jefflovestone said:
Pietro_Mercurios said:
jefflovestone said:
...

I'm in agreement with this; Hutton's pretty good for stuff like this.
Professor Hutton's got a lot to answer for, IMO.
Care to expand on this? From a research point of view, I'm aware that Hutton isn't perfect. Apparently, he'd like to rewrite or amend The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles as relevant research has moved on in the last 10 years or so. That said, I'd have thought that Hutton has left paganism and various folk traditions in a better historical state that they were previously.
Mostly, Hutton himself, for what I've already accused Jerry_B of. Hutton's over reliance on documentary evidence, in areas where documentary evidence can only be scant. And, Hutton's reputation and work, as an easy excuse, for others, to dismiss folk traditions as recent invention, because there's no evidence for them, before the 18th/19th centuries, or whenever they were first recorded, etc.
 

Jerry_B

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#81
Well, in the case of the Cerne Abbas giant, things are a little easier because there is no mention of him before a certain date, despite the fact that there are surveys, etc. before a certain date for that area. And these don't mention the giant.

You have to rely on documentary evidence because folklore is never going to be accurate. It could have been made up the day before anyone asked about it. The resurgance of invented folklore over different periods in time also doesn't help to make matters any clearer. Also, folkore may sound nice and florid but that doesn't make it's subject actually ancient - the folkore about the Long Man proves this.
 

jefflovestone

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#82
Pietro_Mercurios said:
Mostly, Hutton himself, for what I've already accused Jerry_B of. Hutton's over reliance on documentary evidence, in areas where documentary evidence can only be scant. And, Hutton's reputation and work, as an easy excuse, for others, to dismiss folk traditions as recent invention, because there's no evidence for them, before the 18th/19th centuries, or whenever they were first recorded, etc.
I'll agree up to a point. However, if there's no evidence for something before the 18th/19th centuries &c. then how does anyone actually know they did actually existed? Or that the snippets we do have point to an accurate representation?

That's not to say that folk traditions didn't exist previously and I'm sure lots of 'weird and wonderful' traditions have disappeared completely - which is genuinely sad as I'd like to think folk history/belief gives a human element that's often lost in regular history.

I enjoy folklore as, even without context, there's often a nice story or moral attached or some element that allows it to stand up on its own. However, it's to be applied to anything or to slotted into some a wider framework like social/cultural history then I do think it's important for these things to be scrutinised and, if necessary, be rejected or at least labeled 'recent' or 'false'. Otherwise what is any of it for, or what use is it other than to make the nice basis for a story?
 

Jerry_B

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#83
I think Hutton tends to get up the noses of some modern pagans because he has a go at sacrificing a few sacred calfs along the way (if you pardon the pun). This tends to seperate the wheat from the chaff in terms of facts, and one of the main problems of modern paganism is that it tends to rely quite alot on assumptions and a certain amount of make-believe in order to function. It does sometimes seem that obscuirty is a plus - for example, you see alot more people claiming links to the Celts, etc. simply because we don't know much about their actual religious practices (and the ones we do know about are tactfully ignored sometimes). Whereas pagan religions that we do know alot about are largely ignored by modern pagans.

As for folklore, as I said in general it's a bit of a grey area. Combine this with the input of several waves of more modern 'revivals' and some dodgy dealings in terms of research (i.e. Ruth Tongue) and things tend to go a bit astray.
 
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#84
jefflovestone said:
... However, if there's no evidence for something before the 18th/19th centuries &c. then how does anyone actually know they did actually existed? Or that the snippets we do have point to an accurate representation?

...
And there, in a nutshell, is the very problem of the volatile nature of folklore and an oral tradition. Stop believing in it and it can cease to exist.

And, how do you actually know if a tradition is 'recent', or 'false'?

At the moment, Britain appears to be in danger of having a folk tradition remodelled in the image of Professor Hutton, just as modern Witchcraft was modelled in the image of Gardner.
 

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#85
Pietro_Mercurios said:
And there, in a nutshell, is the very problem of the volatile nature of folklore and an oral tradition. Stop believing in it and it can cease to exist.

And, how do you actually know if a tradition is 'recent', or 'false'?
You can tell by doing the research. IMHO, it pays to find out the age of something - that way you can then try to figure out it's deeper roots, which in turn may reveal something more.

At the moment, Britain appears to be in danger of having a folk tradition remodelled in the image of Professor Hutton, just as modern Witchcraft was modelled in the image of Gardner.
You can hardly blame Hutton for 're-modelling' anything. He's not the first person to actually do some research and look into the history of folklore. He won't be the last either. Or would you rather folklore was largely remodelled by modern pagans?
 

stu neville

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#86
Jerry_B said:
Whereas pagan religions that we do know alot about are largely ignored by modern pagans.
Some modern pagans. One of the problems is that paganism overall is such a hodge-podge that it covers a whole spectrum, in much the same manner as more mainstream faiths. Just as there are pure Christians who never set foot in a church, likewise there are churchgoers who wouldn't know actual Christianity if it hit them in the face (or perhaps that should be "turned the other cheek".) As with many things, the faddists tend to be the ones who get noticed by dint of going on and on and on about it.
As for folklore, as I said in general it's a bit of a grey area. Combine this with the input of several waves of more modern 'revivals' and some dodgy dealings in terms of research (i.e. Ruth Tongue) and things tend to go a bit astray.
Nature of folklore is, though, that it invariably predates evidence. Tradition is important, indeed it's the very soul of folklore, but then again, from our perspective, so is evidence.

Ultimately, the point I'm trying to make is that you have to look at this kind of stuff holistically, and to stress one to the detriment of the other has pitfalls. You're playing a game of chicken and egg - did the tradition inspire the monument, or the monument inspire the tradition? And that is virtually impossible to say. Perhaps the hill itself has long been a sacred area for fertility rites, and the giant merely carved as a convenient marker some time later: perhaps the phallus alone was there for centuries, symbolically if not literally, and subsequently the surrounding figure drawn around it?

I'm not saying it was - I don't know, and come to that nor does anyone else. It's a mystery, and a bloody interesting one at that :).
 

jefflovestone

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#87
Pietro_Mercurios said:
jefflovestone said:
... However, if there's no evidence for something before the 18th/19th centuries &c. then how does anyone actually know they did actually existed? Or that the snippets we do have point to an accurate representation?

...
And there, in a nutshell, is the very problem of the volatile nature of folklore and an oral tradition. Stop believing in it and it can cease to exist.
I agree. Please don't get me wrong in all this, I'm not debunking or deriding 'folklore' generally. If anything, it's because I - for want of a better word - appreciate it's cultural value that I'd rather see it scrutinised and examined. That's not to say anything that falls down under scrutiny is worthless or uninteresting either; just, it makes more sense from a social history, and maybe even religious perspective, to see what is - again, for want of a better word - genuine or not.

And, how do you actually know if a tradition is 'recent', or 'false'?
Some form of evidence opposed to hearsay. Any tangible evidence in the way of historical reference in art or writing - that's not to say it needs some 8thC. paper on Kentish hare-kissing (or whatever!) to validate that particular folklore but maybe a contemporary passing reference somewhere would be a start.

At the moment, Britain appears to be in danger of having a folk tradition remodelled in the image of Professor Hutton, just as modern Witchcraft was modelled in the image of Gardner.
Is that modeled or re-modeled though? As far as I see it, Hutton is not re-modeling, more un-modeling. Surely it makes sense to at least take on board the likes of Hutton, particularly when it comes to paganism/witchcraft/wicca - particularly when there's claims to provenance? Having faith in a lore or a belief that is 'fabricated' from fresh is one thing, but it's another thing to have faith in something that is purposely misleading or even lying.

As far as danger goes and modern witchcraft being modeled on Gardner - I think the real danger has been it being (re)modeled on the likes of Llewellyn Books and Ravenwolf. I'm glad for the likes of Hutton just for that.
 

jefflovestone

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#88
stuneville said:
Some modern pagans. One of the problems is that paganism overall is such a hodge-podge that it covers a whole spectrum, in much the same manner as more mainstream faiths. Just as there are pure Christians who never set foot in a church, likewise there are churchgoers who wouldn't know actual Christianity if it hit them in the face (or perhaps that should be "turned the other cheek".) As with many things, the faddists tend to be the ones who get noticed by dint of going on and on and on about it.

Nature of folklore is, though, that it invariably predates evidence. Tradition is important, indeed it's the very soul of folklore, but then again, from our perspective, so is evidence.
But there lies the rub. Let's look at this a little more objectively, if only for the fact that belief in terms of religion/folklore can be emotive, and let's substitute something else for folklore/religion. Would you be as willing to accept, without evidence, science or even general history as opposed to a social/cultural history? Would you be willing to take my own word on anything at all without evidence to back it up? Particularly if I'd gone through a phase of fabricating things or at least seeing particular topics through idealised/romantic eyes?

Ultimately, the point I'm trying to make is that you have to look at this kind of stuff holistically, and to stress one to the detriment of the other has pitfalls. You're playing a game of chicken and egg - did the tradition inspire the monument, or the monument inspire the tradition? And that is virtually impossible to say. Perhaps the hill itself has long been a sacred area for fertility rites, and the giant merely carved as a convenient marker some time later: perhaps the phallus alone was there for centuries, symbolically if not literally, and subsequently the surrounding figure drawn around it?

I'm not saying it was - I don't know, and come to that nor does anyone else. It's a mystery, and a bloody interesting one at that :).
That's something I'm worried that will get lost in all this debate - particularly with people worried that there's motives behind some form of 'debunking'. Whether or not something is 'only' 200-years-old or 2000-years-old doesn't make it less interesting for it.
 
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#89
jefflovestone said:
[quote="Pietro_Mercurios... And, how do you actually know if a tradition is 'recent', or 'false'?
Some form of evidence opposed to hearsay. ...[/quote]
But, isn't, "hearsay", what oral tradition is all about? ;)
 

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#90
stuneville said:
Jerry_B said:
Whereas pagan religions that we do know alot about are largely ignored by modern pagans.
Some modern pagans.
Which is why I use the word 'largely'.

I'm not saying it was - I don't know, and come to that nor does anyone else. It's a mystery, and a bloody interesting one at that :).
It doesn't have to be a mystery, that's the point. If someones does the research finds out that 'x' bit of folkore stems from a definite point in time (or the most likely point in time) then that in itself expands our knowledge. It also allows us to put a tick in the relevant box - 'recent'/'old'/'ancient'. IMHO it makes to seperate folklore into the period from which it stems, as it gives us a clearer pictire of history and of folkloric history.
 
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